Santa Barbara County health officials report the number of flu deaths countywide has now hit 12; an increase of two in the past month. Of those, two were under the age of 64, and both had underlying health conditions. The other 10 were 65 or older. In addition, 14 patients have been checked into the intensive care unit for flu-like symptoms this season, and another 12 — residents of skilled nursing homes — have reported serious upper-respiratory illnesses.
County officials say the number of emergency room admissions for flu-like symptoms is somewhat higher than this time last year. About 20 percent of the patients checking into any of Cottage Health’s three emergency rooms this January — 1,560 — reported flu-like symptoms. Of those, 145 were admitted. In February, the numbers were down somewhat with only 1,271 reporting flu-like symptoms — 19 percent of total patients. Of those, 106 were admitted.